Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson – Review

Published: January 1, 2023

Publisher: Dragonsteel Entertainment

Series: The Cosmere

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 443 (eBook)

My Rating: 5 Stars

#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson expands his Cosmere universe shared by The Stormlight Archive and Mistborn with a new standalone novel for everyone who loved The Princess Bride.

The only life Tress has known on her island home in an emerald-green ocean has been a simple one, with the simple pleasures of collecting cups brought by sailors from faraway lands and listening to stories told by her friend Charlie. But when his father takes him on a voyage to find a bride and disaster strikes, Tress must stow away on a ship and seek the Sorceress of the deadly Midnight Sea. Amid the spore oceans where pirates abound, can Tress leave her simple life behind and make her own place sailing a sea where a single drop of water can mean instant death?

As soon as January 1st arrived, I was checking my emails for the ebook download link so I could start reading this most anticipated and mysterious new Brandon Sanderson book. Right off the bat, I inexplicably had The Little Mermaid vibes, which made very little sense and quickly dissipated. This is less Disney princess and more The Princess Bride, as Sanderson was heavily inspired by that story but with the twist that the princess actually did the saving.

Tress lives on a small island in the Emerald Sea where salt is mined and people are forbidden from leaving. Tress cleans windows at the governor’s home and she and the governor’s son Charlie are rather in love, though it almost seems that they themselves have only just realized it. It’s a solid, slowly grown sort of love where they just fit one another and enjoy time well spent together. Unfortunately, the governor has decided it’s high time for his son to marry and whisks him away to court and while Charlie manages to foil his suitors attempts, all he manages to do is get himself sent to the Sorceress in the Midnight Sea. Tress, being the no-nonsense, logical character that she is, tells her parents her plan to rescue her dearest love and she sets off on her maritime adventure.

Tress is an absolute delight of a character, filled with bravery, a marvelous amount of common sense, and a rather on the nose ability to defy tropes. The secondary characters you meet along the way are just as brilliant and diverse. I’ve failed to mention up to this point a few key details that make this story and the world it’s set in so interesting. First of all, Hoid is narrating this story and is actually a character in the tale, so he adds hilarious and occasionally poignant commentary at times. The seas are also not made of water, but rather spores that fall from the moons hovering above the planet. Said spores react rather violently when exposed to moisture, which completely changes the dynamic of sailing in a fascinating and well-explored way. The spores’ natures vary by their color – green ones grow vines, red ones turn deadly needles, blue ones produce puffs of air – and it’s super cool to see how they’re utilized as a sort of technology.

Tress’s adventure across the spore oceans is a delightful yet at times harrowing story that has massive appeal for all ages. It’s genuinely something you could read with your entire family. The Cosmere crossovers and easter eggs were intriguing and had me going down a few wiki article trails. This is definitely a book you can read and completely enjoy without having read another Cosmere book, but if you’re at least familiar with Mistborn and Stormlight Archive you’ll get the easter eggs. Tress of the Emerald Sea has ended up as my first 5 Star read of 2023 and actually exceeded my expectations. Now I’m awaiting my lovely hardcover from the Kickstarter with all the interior art that the ebook teased me with!


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